Carson Smith Opportunity Scholarships

Now accepting applications for the 2024-25 school year

Scholarship applications for the 2024-25 school year

Carson Smith Opportunity Scholarship. The 2024 Utah State Legislature passed a bill merging the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship program with the Carson Smith Scholarship program. Children First Education Fund will administer the new combined program. This bill allows students who were enrolled in a private school and who were awarded the legacy Carson Smith scholarship to stay in that program if they choose. All the terms and conditions of the program will remain the same, and the program will continue to be administered by USBE. The legacy Carson Smith program is not allowed to enroll new students.

Legacy Carson Smith students may switch to the new Carson Smith Opportunity Scholarship (CSOS) program, and will be automatically approved for the 2024-25 school year as long as eligibility standards continue to be met. Legacy Carson Smith students only need to complete the CFEF application by clicking the button below.

Former Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Students. Students who have previously received a scholarship from Children First Education Fund will continue to be funded in the 2024-25 school year, but these students are required to update their eligibility information. They can do so by going into the parent portal and updating their financial information and disability verification information if necessary. This will help CFEF determine the scholarship award amount for next year.

Waitlisted Students. Students who have applied to CFEF for a scholarship in the past 12 months, and have been placed on the waiting list, will be awarded a scholarship for the 2024-25 school year based upon when applications were received, and pending availability of funds. Students will be notified by August 15, 2024 whether they will be awarded a scholarship for the coming school year.

New Applicants. The application for a CSOS through CFEF is always open. Scholarships are awarded based upon when applications are approved by CFEF. We currently have a waiting list, and as more funds become available, we will award scholarships in order of applications approved.


Children First Education Fund Availability

Recent legislation now allows CFEF to receive funding from two different sources. We will continue to receive funds from donations from individuals and businesses. All donations are eligible for a 100% Utah State income tax credit. Anyone who pays Utah state income taxes is able to donate and receive the tax credit. Please consider redirecting your state tax dollars to CFEF. Click here to make a donation.

CFEF will also receive an appropriation from the state of Utah. Funds not used for the legacy Carson Smith program will be transferred to CFEF for the new Carson Smith Opportunity Scholarship program. All excess funding not allocated in the current year legacy program, will be transferred to CFEF, which will allow additional funds for students on our waiting list.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a scholarship under the Utah Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Act, a student must meet all of the following requirements:

        1.The student and the student’s custodial parent or legal guardian must reside within the State of Utah throughout the entire school year.

        2.The student must have a qualifying disability as defined under the federal Individual with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). The disability must be verified within the prior 36 months by one of the following documents:

     a. Individual Education Plan (IEP)
     b. Assessment Team Member Record (ATMR)
     c. Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation (MDT)

3. The student must be eligible to participate in preschool or kindergarten through grade 12 in public school.

4.The student must not be attending public or charter school when the scholarship is awarded. An application can be submitted while a student is enrolled in public school, but before the award can be received, the student must have unenrolled from public school and have been accepted at a private school or declared to be homeschooled.

5.The student cannot receive the legacy Carson Smith scholarship or the Utah Fits All scholarship in the same year of this scholarship.

Have additional questions about the application process? Please review our comprehensive Application Guide below.

Participating Private Schools

CFEF is currently partnered with over 30 schools across the state that have been approved by the Utah State School Board (USBE) to receive students awarded with the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship.

Scholarship Award Estimates

CFEF approved applicant scholarship amounts are awarded based on financial need. To learn more about award amounts, click below to view our complete award estimates.